WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Hong Kong:
‘On Sunday, as we Americans savored the holiday weekend and gave thanks for our liberty, the people of Hong Kong once again took to the streets to demand their own. Many waved American flags.
‘Hong Kongers are continuing to speak up for the freedoms and the autonomy that Beijing has slowly tried to erode. As long as Beijing does not relent, it looks like the people of Hong Kong will not relent either.
‘In local elections last week that were largely symbolic, pro-democracy candidates blew away the candidates the Chinese Communist Party would have preferred in a landslide.
‘Not even Beijing’s propagandists can credibly blame this massive display of popular revulsion at their authoritarianism on the “black hand” of the West.
‘In spite of China’s propaganda, the West should not stay silent as Beijing seeks to snuff out dissent in Hong Kong.
‘Just a few days prior, the Congress and President Trump had sent our clearest signal yet that, yes, the United States of America stands with Hong Kong. The Senate unanimously passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and the president signed it into law.
‘It delivered important updates to the original United States – Hong Kong Policy Act which I authored back in 1992.
‘Preserving freedom and promoting democracy has required constant vigilance from Hong Kongers since Communist China assumed control of the region.
‘I’ve been proud to stand with them in that effort. With my original legislation, we paved the way for cooperation between Hong Kong and the United States, codifying and strengthening economic ties and facilitating the robust exchange of ideas in support of greater democracy in the autonomous region.
‘We’ve laid the foundation for a U.S.-Hong Kong relationship that has strengthened both their society and ours and created leverage to hold Beijing accountable.
‘Back in 1992 I observed that democracy was, quote, “finally gaining a tenuous foothold in Hong Kong.”
‘Recent months certainly have reminded us just how tenuous that foothold can be when an authoritarian country flexes its muscle. They have reminded us just how intent Beijing remains on exporting its oppressive surveillance state not just within mainland China but into Hong Kong and, frankly, around the world.
‘So the unanimous Senate vote for expanded oversight and firm responses to Beijing was welcome news on the streets of Hong Kong. Not because the U.S. Senate, or international nonprofits, or anybody else is ginning up these protests, as Beijing wants people to believe.
‘But because those speaking out for freedom recognize a friend of freedom when they see one.
‘It’s been funny, to see how invested Beijing is in these conspiracy theories that this organic protest movement is actually the work of shadowy puppeteers.
‘Just a few days ago, the Chinese Communist Party’s foreign ministry took the panicked and laughable step of “sanctioning” several American nonprofits and NGOs, such as the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, and the National Endowment for Democracy.
‘Like I said, laughable. I admire the heck out of these organizations, but they aren’t exactly in the business of commanding millions of people from Hong Kong to Beirut to Baghdad to Tehran to take to the streets. Here’s the business they are in: Speaking up for the timeless and universal principles of basic human freedom. They help keep the torch lit.
‘It is the brave souls around the world, who want better lives for themselves and their children, who pick up that ball and run with it for themselves.
‘The junior-varsity tantrum that Beijing is throwing against these U.S.-based organizations is comical. It puts the Communist Party’s hypersensitivity on full display.
‘And it’s the same flailing that we see from other regimes from Moscow to Tehran — driven by the same aggressive authoritarian instincts that push social media propaganda, street corner surveillance, police violence, and the modern-day gulags where China is imprisoning and brutalizing the Uighur people.
‘These are forces history never judges kindly. So I’m proud of the people of Hong Kong. I’m proud of the Senate’s latest action to support them. And I’m proud to continue standing alongside them in their journey to true self-determination.’
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